Georgia is one of the top states in the country for motorcycle accidents and related deaths. In 2018, 154 motorcyclists lost their lives in Georgia traffic accidents, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Most of these motorcyclists (134) were wearing helmets. Obeying Georgia’s motorcycle laws could help prevent motorcycle accidents. It is a motorcyclist’s duty to obey related laws and a driver’s duty to respect bikers’ rights to the road. Any failure to do so by either party could result in a serious or fatal motorcycle crash. A motorcycle accident lawyer in Gwinnett County can help you break down Georgia’s applicable laws and how they might apply to your case.
Is Lane Splitting Legal?
Lane splitting, or riding between lanes, is illegal in the state of Georgia. It is illegal in every state except California as of 2019. In 2016, California lawmakers signed a bill that erased traffic law language prohibiting motorcyclists from operating between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. Thus, while the state no longer prohibits lane splitting, it does not technically condone it, either. In Georgia, however, the law remains firmly against lane splitting. Riding a motorcycle between vehicles is a traffic offense that could result in a fine.
Lane splitting is a hotly debated topic in Georgia, as well as in many other states. Many people – motorcyclists and drivers alike – support lane splitting. Supporters believe it is safer for the motorcyclist, as it could help prevent rear-end collisions. Supporters also say it can reduce traffic congestion, especially in metropolitan areas such as Atlanta. Those against lane splitting argue that it is dangerous for everyone on the road and could increase the number of sideswipe accidents. Georgia lawmakers currently have not released any plans to legalize lane splitting.
Do You Need a Helmet in Georgia?
Helmets are critical safety tools for motorcyclists and their passengers. Helmets can drastically reduce the risk of a motorcyclist suffering a serious to fatal head injury in an accident. Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between walking away from a motorcycle crash and ending up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. No matter what the law says, motorcyclists should always wear helmets while riding to protect their physical safety. In Georgia, however, wearing a helmet is a legal requirement.
Georgia is one of a handful of states that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets by universal law. Georgia Statutes section 40-6-315 enacts a uniform rule that states no person shall operate or ride on a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear. The headgear must comply with federal crash safety regulations. All motorcyclists, regardless of age, experience level or insurance coverage, must wear helmets while riding. Georgia law also requires eye protection if the motorcycle does not have a windshield. The only exceptions to these rules are riders in enclosed motorcycle cabs and three-wheeled motorcycles for farming purposes.
Motorcycle Passenger Laws
The only motorcycles that may lawfully carry passengers are those with designated seats for doing so. A passenger must have his or her own footrests on the motorcycle. The only exception is if the passenger is riding in a sidecar or enclosed cab. It is illegal to carry a passenger on a motorcycle designed to only carry one person. All passengers who are not in enclosed cabs must wear approved protective headgear. Children can ride as passengers on motorcycles in Georgia as long as they have designated seats, footrests and helmets.
What to Do If You Get Into a Motorcycle Accident
After an accident on a motorcycle or with a motorcyclist, protect your rights by consulting with an attorney. If you were not wearing a helmet and a driver tries to use this against you, for example, your Gwinnett County personal injury lawyer can help you combat this defense to help maximize your financial recovery.
If you were in a motor vehicle at the time of the crash, a lawyer could help you prove the motorcyclist’s fault or otherwise try to reduce your liability for damages. Contacting an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer from either side of a case could be important to your future after a crash, especially since Georgia’s motorcycle laws are always changing.